A “Captured State”: Moldova Between Russia and the West

By Dr Andrew Foxall

Moldova is a “captured state” – in the words of the World Bank – in which the country’s post-Soviet transition has effectively halted because of domestic and foreign vested interests, a new paper concludes.

A ‘Captured State’: Moldova between Russia and the West, described by Rt. Hon. John Whittingdale MP as an “excellent analysis of the challenges facing Moldova”, outlines how the existence of an oligarchic power system in Moldova has led to a situation in which corruption is endemic and systemic, state institutions are frequently subdued, and independent decision-making has been paralysed.

The paper’s findings include:

  • Moldova has struggled with the challenges of post-Soviet transition, and this transition has become vastly more challenging as a result of the breakdown of Europe’s post-Cold War security order in 2014. Like several countries in central and eastern Europe, it is now seemingly caught up in a geopolitical tug-of-war between Russia and the West.
  • Since 1991, power in Moldova has alternated between the Communist Party, which has traditionally favoured stronger ties with Russia, and self-declared ‘pro-European’ coalitions, which have advocated membership of the European Union (EU). Governments of both leanings have been implicated in various scandals and discredited.
  • Of all the problems facing Moldova, corruption is the most serious. In 2014, it was revealed that Moldova had played a key role in a vast money-laundering scheme in which Russian criminals and politicians moved as much as US $20 billion through the country. The same year, an estimated US$1 billion – roughly equal to 12 per cent of Moldova’s total Gross Domestic Product – disappeared from the country’s banking system.
  • The West should attach strict conditionality to the financial assistance it provides to Moldova, and should be willing to withdraw this if reforms are not forthcoming. Concerted efforts must be made to encourage Moldova to take tangible steps toward eliminating political interference in the judicial and law enforcement systems, establishing truly independent anti-corruption agencies, and strengthening civil society.

To download the full report, click here.


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